Monday Mornings with Madison

Nepotism, Part 1

Human Resources Affliction or Invaluable Talent Pipeline?

It was recently announced that 84-year-old media mogul Rupert Murdoch will be handing the leadership reigns of the 21st Century Fox / News Corp. media conglomerate to his son, James Murdoch.  As part of the reorganization, Fox COO Chase Carey will step down from his role.  James Murdoch got the appointment despite the 2011 revelation that News Corp’s News of the World reporters were hacking phones to get the scoop on stories.  At that time, News of the World, a U.K.-based newspaper, was managed by James Murdoch, who was called before British Parliament to answer questions about the matter.  News of the World closed shortly after the scandal.  The debacle did not affect James Murdoch’s selection to take over leadership of the media conglomerate from his father. Continue reading

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The Search for the “Right Fit”

Adding 280,000 jobs in May 2015, the U.S. unemployment rate now stands at 5.5% and we are seeing more people return to the workforce.  That’s below the average U.S. unemployment rate between 1948 until 2015 of 5.83%, and it’s about half of the all time highest national unemployment rate of 10.8% recorded in November 1982.  In fact, U.S. companies have hired over 200,000 employees every month in all but one of the last 15 consecutive months, and over four million new positions were filled since the start of 2014.  That’s a lot of hiring! Continue reading

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Equal, Fair and Equitable – Part 2

The world is not always a fair place.  Some people are born into money while others are born into poverty.  Some people are born healthy and others are born sickly.  Some people are just prettier or more charismatic or intelligent than others.  None of that seems fair. But it is human nature to want to impose a sense of justice in the world. Continue reading

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Equal, Fair and Equitable – Part 1

Currently, women outnumber men in U.S. college classrooms.  Women also outpace men in college completion in the U.S.  In fact, women now account for 60% of all Bachelor degree holders in the U.S.  Women also continue to increase their participation in the labor force.  This is great for businesses and even better for the nation’s economy.  However, while the Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that men and women in the U.S. be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment, it seems that neither the educational level nor quantity of women in the workforce has resulted in ‘equal’ pay and opportunities for women.  The most common statistic cited is that women earn .78 cents for every dollar a man earns.  That is certainly not equal.  This disparity is pervasive from entry level positions all the way to the top.  According to CNN Money, 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at S&P Fortune 500 companies are held by women.  Of those 500 companies, just 24 have female CEOs (less than 5%).  And of the top 200 best paid CEOs in America in 2014, 13 were women (6.5%).  There weren’t any females among the top 10 best-paid CEOs, and only two women (Marissa Mayer at Yahoo and Martine Rothblatt at United Therapeutics) were among the top 50 best-paid CEOs.  Of those that did make it to the top spot, the average pay for the top female CEOs in the U.S. in 2014 was $20 million, 11.5% less than the $22.6 million for the overall average. Continue reading

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Intellectual Property: Are Your Brands, Products and Services Protected? – Part 3

Part 3:  Patent Protection

A hiccup treatment device.  A snake walking system.  Carry-out food containers.  Tiny umbrella for your drink.   A fireplace waterfall.  A wind-harnessing bicycle.  What do these things have in common?  These are all odd but real solutions to specific problems.  More importantly, besides being a little strange, they are also among the millions of inventions that have been patented since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) first started issuing patents in 1790.  A patent protects an invention the way a trademark protects a brand and a copyright protects creative property.  However, unlike trademarks and copyrights, which don’t need to be registered to be in effect, patents do require an application and approval to get patent protection. Continue reading

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Intellectual Property: Are Your Brands, Products and Services Protected? – Part 2

Part 2:  Copyright Protection

Anyone with a new invention or process must file for a patent in order to protect his or her ownership and use rights.  However, that is not so for new works of art, photos, pictures, songs, books, manuscripts, publications, plays, movies, and shows, among other things. For items of creative expression, copyright is automatic, meaning that nothing needs to be done to claim copyright protection. Although additional rights are provided if the work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, legal protection is guaranteed once a work is created – which is the day it is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Continue reading

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Intellectual Property: Are your Brands, Products and Services Protected? – Part 1

Trademarks and Service Marks

The average person knows very little about patents, copyrights, trademarks and service marks.  They all fall within the complex legal realm of protecting the rights to something unique created by or belonging to a person or company, generally referred to as ‘intellectual property’.   If you ask the typical entrepreneur if his brand needs a trademark or service mark, he probably wouldn’t know.  And if you asked an average CEO to explain if or when a product needs a patent, he is unlikely to know the answer.  In fact, even the average attorney knows little about this niche area of the law.  It focuses on that special axis point where creativity and invention intersects with business and marketing. Continue reading

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Obsession: The Shared Quality of the Uber-Successful

Obsession is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes in a person’s mind; a compulsive or even irrational fixation. Obsessive thinking often leads to habitual, uncontrollable behavior.  Mildly obsessive behavior is seen as a personality quirk.  In extreme cases, it is even characterized as a mental defect.  In fact, there is even a recognized psychological condition called Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder.  People who have Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder may engage in repeated illogical behaviors such as serial hand washing, compulsive checking (to see if a door is locked or an oven is off) or hoarding.  Psychologists think that perhaps obsessive behavior originates from the brain’s warning system to ensure people worry about everyday things such as whether something is still good to eat, or to be aware if a noise is approaching from behind or to be alert to protect children from harm.  Then it grows from there into thoughts and behaviors that are ‘out of control.’

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Go Mobile or Go Home

Marketing is constantly evolving.  First there was print advertising.  Then came persuasive radio commercials.  After that came colorful TV ads.  Then, with the evolution of technology and the advent of the World Wide Web, companies established an online presence.   Business owners quickly surmised that without a website, their company would not be perceived as ‘legitimate’ or ‘reputable’ by most consumers.  Even the smallest mom-n-pop shops set up simple, informative websites   Then, as e-commerce flourished, websites became more sophisticated.  Then companies were forced to go social.  Social media sites sprouted up like weeds and companies had to get engaged or be forgotten.  All of this marketing takes time and costs money.  Still, the pace of change is relentless and businesses are now facing yet another change thanks to the growing tidal wave of Smartphones.  Used by tweens, teens and adults of all ages, Smartphones are quickly taking over the shopping landscape and businesses are now feeling pressured to design websites that are mobile-friendly. Continue reading

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Cultivate Creativity for Business Success

Creativity is an invaluable skill… one that everyone wants to possess but not everyone has.  It is a quality that companies desperately desire in their employees, but one that has been nearly impossible to test for, spot or measure in any discernable way.  From the smallest shops to the most successful Fortune 100 companies, everyone wants the most creative talent.  Why is creativity so sought-after yet so elusive…. so needed and yet so scarce?  It is because creativity makes people more effective and resourceful problem-solvers… and ultimately solving problems is what businesses do.  That’s the crux of it.  Solving problems is how companies make money. Continue reading

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